One day, in the spring of 2014, I awoke in my bed to the sound of my phone vibrating. I checked to see who was calling. It was my little sister, Lauren, so I answered. "Hey," I said rather unenthusiastically. She asked if I was still sleeping (I was), and why I hadn't gotten out of bed yet (it was 11:30 AM). "What's the point?" was all I could muster up. Lauren did her best to cheer me up, but I was, and had for weeks, been in a deep depression.
Looking back on that time in my life, I now understand why: my work/play balance was totally off. I had been struggling through an injury and couldn't do my job as a professional runner. I learned something about myself and about what it means to be human through that injury; one cannot enjoy life without a combination of work and play. If you are a high strung individual like myself, then you probably need a lot of both.
I put this theory to the test recently on weekend business/pleasure trip to San Francisco. As a now healthy athlete in full training with a recently released book and a growing performance gum business I knew that work was going to take up a lot of time. As I rushed through SFO to the rental car agency I hoped that there would be a some time for play as well.
My aim was to make the most of my short trip and, with a little help from Run Gum, that is exactly what I did. In just three short, fully caffeinated days, I was able to walk along the marina, run 16x200m hill repeats in San Jose, do a book signing, pitch Run Gum to a major retailer, run six miles in the Presido, hike into a remote beach, run 11 miles in Huddart Park with the Santa Clara University XC team, and even ice skate! Sprinkled in were some really incredible meals with great friends.
At the end of the weekend, I walked through the San Francisco airport totally exhausted and sad to be leaving. Despite this, I had a huge smile on my face. I looked back on my hectic weekend and knew that whether I was working or playing, in every moment I had felt completely ALIVE. The function of man is to live, not simply to exist, and I was definitely living.
When I was younger I resented work for eating into my play time, now I fully understand that the two must go hand in hand. The work involved in the creation and launch of Run Gum is what ultimately got me out of my depression. Conveniently, the product that resulted from those long hours is now what fuels both my work and my play. I encourage you to find your own perfect work/play balance. Doing so is, in my opinion, the key to living a very happy and meaningful life.